The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it received a whopping $2.8 billion of requests for the remaining $1.5 billion of funding under the agency’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program, which aims to close the “homework gap” for students that don’t have access to reliable broadband service and devices.
The FCC said it received requests to fund over five million connected devices and over four million broadband connections. With the demand outweighing the supply, the FCC said applications will be prioritized to fund “schools and libraries with the greatest need first, with a preference for schools and libraries located in rural areas.”
Nevertheless, the FCC said it expects to fund requests “from many” of the 7,369 schools and school districts, 628 libraries and library systems, and 133 consortia that applied for some of the remaining $1.5 billion.
“The continued interest in the Emergency Connectivity Fund demonstrates what we’ve known for a long time – far too many kids across the country need off-campus support to get online and keep up with their schoolwork,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
“We received more requests than Congress gave us funds to support for this final round of applications, so we’re prioritizing those with the greatest need. But the work doesn’t stop there,” she added. “We’ll continue to look for ways to close the homework gap and ensure no child is left offline.”
This is the FCC’s third, and final, ECF application filing window, and the commission received applications from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
To date, over $4.8 billion in ECF funding commitments have been approved and the program has helped over 12.5 million students and provided schools and libraries with over 10 million connected devices and 5 million broadband connections.